St Martin's Church

In 1645 the previous St Martin’s Church, which stood on the current St Martin’s Street, was badly damaged by cannon balls during the siege of Hereford. The besieging Parliamentarian forces were driven back, but the citizens of Hereford destroyed the church so that they could not be used as shelter in any future attack on the city. The parishioners of St Martin’s crossed the river to worship in All Saints church over the next two centuries. On November 26th 1826 a meeting was held in the Saracen’s Head public house and a petition was written to Parliament, “the inhabitants of the Parish of St Martin earnestly pray that his Majesty’s Government will take into consideration the peculiar claims of the Parish: their church was destroyed in the service of the State’ This petition (which is kept in the Herefordshire Records Office at Rotherwas) was not immediately successful, but by the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign planning to build a new church on a new site had begun in earnest. The Queen was “graciously pleased to direct that the sum of £1000 should be issued… towards the expenses of the new church.” Prudently, she gave the money in two grants of £500, only to be paid once £2,500 had been raised by subscription. Further grants from the Incorporated Church Building Society and the Diocesan Society and a fundraising campaign of bazaars, concerts and subscriptions enabled building to commence. The foundation stone was laid on the 8th October 1840, by Lady Emily Foley of Stoke Edith. Lady Emily had been a bridesmaid to the Queen, and also a patron of the fundraising committee. Building was completed in 1845 and the consecration took place on the 30th September. The new church offered seating for 636, of which 422 seats were free (a condition of the grant funding.) There were seating galleries in the transepts and the nave, and the marks remaining when these galleries were later removed can still be seen.